The Libyan government and three defence equipment manufacturers from the Czech Republic have signed a deal for the supply of 350 BRDM amphibious and BVP-1 armoured vehicles.
According to reports from the Czech capital Prague, the vehicles will be supplied in terms of a long standing bi-lateral defence co-operation agreement which has been re-activated following the lifting of the arms embargo against Libya in March this year, paving the way for the acquisition of ‘non- lethal’ military equipment for humanitarian or protective use, training and technical assistance.
Czech defence equipment manufacturers Excalibur Army, Tatra, VOP CZ will supply and deliver the armoured vehicles to Libya. Another 300 BDRM vehicles already in service with the Libyan Army will be refurbished.
However, no time-frame has been given for the delivery. According to Czech Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Johana Grohova and Andrej Cirtek, a representative of Excalibur Army and Tatra, the companies will supply the BDRM amphibious, a fully armoured, four-wheel-drive reconnaissance vehicle.
Cirtek said the companies will also supply Libya with the Bojove Vozidlo Pechoty-1 (BVP-1), an infantry fighting vehicle widely used by the Czech Army.
However, Cirtek said ammunition suppliers may be cut out of the deal as the Foreign Affairs ministry remains sceptical about permitting ammunition exports to Libya due to fears that it could be smuggled and proliferated into other African and Middle Eastern war zones.
“At first officials told us to focus on Libya because it needs equipment for restoration of order. But now they said they will not permit export of ammunition for the time being,” Cirtek said. Grohova said despite the lifting of the arms embargo on Libya, the Czech government remains cautious about supplying ammunition.
“Illegal distribution of military material has been observed by the UN, for example. Ammunition is a sensitive commodity whose movement is very difficult to monitor. If it got into a country with an unstable regime or to terrorist groups, we would risk the reputation of not only our country, but also of our arms producers and other companies,” she said.
The Czech Republic was one of Libya’s biggest suppliers of military equipment during the rule of long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi who died as the Libyan revolution ended in 2011. The country, which faces a serious security crisis with an increase in the number of Al Qaeda aligned jihadist groups, is presently rebuilding its army, air force, navy and police services with the help of partners including France, Italy, Turkey and the US.